A creative way to clean beaches
A Hampshire couple have come up with an ingenious self-funding way of cleaning up beaches along the south-west coasts of Britain. They clean plastic from some of the most beautiful beaches along the coast, then take photos of it and sell the prints.
Joe Lawson and his fiancée, Caroline Mcdermid, started up Drone Overview in 2017. They survey beaches in Cornwall and Dorset by drone, collecting data and helping to create 3D maps of beaches. They then provide that data to university researchers and an organisation called the The Plastic Tide, which is making an open source map of plastic around Britain’s coast.
This helps The Plastic Tide develop an algorithm that can spot plastic items, recognising them by shape and colour.
The survey allows Lawson and Mcdermid to locate and clear plastic from the beach before taking the images that will be selected to make high quality prints.
“We’ve done a lot of beaches on the north coast of Cornwall, such as Fistral and Perranporth. Typically, we’ll take fishing rope, fishing wire, lots of straws, bottle tops and weird things like crisp packets, forks and spoons as well as a lot of small, indistinguishable things. The last beach we cleaned was Lepe in Hampshire and over a three hectare area, we ended up taking 5kg away.
“Even if some beaches are quite clean there are a lot of micro plastics from the Atlantic in the sand.”
Lawson says they sometimes offer a bespoke service. “If anyone has a particular place they want a picture of, we will go there, take drone images of the beach, scan it, clean it up and then, if we have time, we will take pictures.” He and Mcdermid are often joined by others on beach cleans.
For more info on this great initiative, see
Above: Kynance Cove in Cornwall Right: Tolcarne Beach, Newquay